Breach the Snake River Dams

Killer whale with salmon

By Kenneth Balcomb, guest essayist Note: In this guest essay, long-time killer whale researcher Ken Balcomb shows how obsolete but still salmon-killing dams are helping cause the decline of killer whales due to food shortage in the Northwest. The dams do feed us one thing: propaganda. As Ken wrote to me, “I was flabbergasted that […]

Obama Gives Bristol Bay Fishermen A Great Christmas Present!

Aerial view of braided wetlands and tundra that is typical in the pristine Bristol Bay region. Photo from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By Carl Safina and Elizabeth Brown Last month, President Obama used his executive power to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from future oil and gas drilling. Bristol Bay is a 52,000 square mile area (roughly the size of Florida), north of the Aleutian Islands that the largest surviving salmon populations on Earth swim through on their […]

Mercury in Seafood: A Little Clarity

This big tuna was a surprise; the bigger surprise was how much mercury we got from it.
Photo by Carl Safina

Previously posted on March 27, 2014: Huffington Post One of the most dangerous yet confusing toxic pollutants is mercury in seafood. Mercury is very bad for developing fetuses and children, and seafood is very good for them. But mercury is in all seafood. Like I said: confusing. Last summer a friend caught a quite […]

Killer Whales in Washington State: Serial Problems

Male killer whales have big fins
Photo: Carl-Safina

We were just chatting in Ken Balcomb’s kitchen when out of the computer speakers’ white-noise static came a single whistle that stopped all conversation. They were coming! Moments later the kitchen was full of squeals, squeaks, whoops, buzzes—. At the windows with our binoculars, we confirmed that a familiar group of “resident” or fish-eating killer […]

Kitchen Killer Whales

Ken Balcomb 
Photo: Carl Safina

I was just standing on researcher Ken Balcomb’s kitchen porch looking out at Haro Strait, from Washington toward Vancouver Island, Canada, watching killer whales going by. Cool enough, but these were not the usual “residents” who hunt salmon. They were “transients;” mammal eaters. One way we knew: We’d been listening to the nearby hydrophones set […]

GYRE Expedition – Day 5- Bearing Witness; Witnessing Bears. Act 2 (Wednesday, June 12)

bear mom and cub

Originally posted on National Geographic 6/15/2013: A mile down the beach and a mile out on the flat more-or-less, another mother trails three cubs from clam-hole to clam-hole. When she spots a big dark male headed her way from half a mile away, she moves off, in a hurry and a worry, frequently glancing […]